AbstractThis paper follows on from that presented at the last BEST conference in Edinburgh (Higson & Hamilton-Jones(2004)). At that stage, the authors outlined their initial research work with students studying on the yearlong International Foundation programmes. at three local FE Colleges allied to Aston University. The research (funded by the University's Teaching Quality Enhancement Funds (TQEF) involved questionnaires and interviews with staff and students (the latter all from overseas). it aimed to identify ways to improve the learning experience of students on the International Foundation programmes, to aid their smooth transition to full degree programmes in Business and Management and to improve the progression rates of such students while studying at Aston. The initial research findings were used to design a module for those students' progress to degree programmes in Aston Business School. This paper discusses how the module was designed, its content and the assessment methods used to help determine whether students are achieving the learning outcomes. The basic principle was to identify areas of study where the International Foundation Programme students needed help in order to improve their learning styles to assist them with the requirements of other modules that they would be studying during their time at Aston. Particular emphasis was put on the need to develop active learners who were not disadvantaged by their lack of awareness of UK culture and society and who were as comfortable performing written work under examination conditions or presenting orally as their UK counterparts. An additional aim was to prepare these students for the placement year which was a compulsory part of their degree. The module, therefore, comprises a range of inputs for a number of staff, a company visit, weekly reflective learning leading to Personal Development Plan (PDP) work, formal examinations, presentations, group work •and individual case studies. This paper also reports on the initial reaction of the students and tutors to the new learning experience with currently 30 participants undertaking the module. Provisional findings suggest that the International Foundation programme has prepared the students well for degree-level work and that as a group of international students they are much more analytical and, after studying the module interactive than their counterparts who have come directly onto Aston degrees. It has shown them still to be quite passive learners, comfortable with facts and lecture-style learning environments, but less comfortable when asked to use their own initiatives. Continuing progress needs to be made in terms of encouraging them to develop a reflective approach to learning with the students taking some time to feel comfortable with an analytical approach to learning. In addition, im account of the students' reactions to having to work through a formal (PDP) and the results of their first assessments will be provided. At Aston, this work is being used as a pilot to recognise good practice with regards to work with further groups of international students. it is hoped that this would have widespread application across the sector.
TypeConference or Workshop Item
Higson, Helen and Smedley, Jo K. Specialist business skills of international students. IN: The HE Academy Business, Management and Accountancy Conference. 2005-01-01. (Unpublished)